Beyond The Abstracts: Navigating Culture, Autonomy, and Adaptation in Language Education

Press/Media: Relating to Research


In this Beyond The Abstracts conversation I speak with Dominic Edsall. Dominic started his teaching career as a science teacher specialising in chemistry before retraining to be an EFL teacher. He was awarded a master’s in TESOL with distinction from the Institute of Education, London and recently defended his PhD thesis at the UCL Institute of Education. His doctoral research focused on teacher identity and the negotiation of learner autonomy. He has taught at several universities in Japan and the UK. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and teaches pedagogy courses part-time at Nara Women’s University. His research interests include learner autonomy, agency, identity in language learning, critical realism, CLIL, pedagogy, teacher development, and curriculum.

In this insightful conversation, we delve into the complex intersection of teaching, culture, and learner autonomy, particularly within the Japanese educational context. Dominic shares his diverse experiences ranging from teaching in a challenging school in London to his tenure at Japanese universities, discussing the impact of cultural nuances on teaching and learning. We also explore his personal academic journey from chemistry to language education, highlighting his transition through different teaching roles and the dynamic influences on his professional life. Furthermore, Dominic reflects on the profound challenges and adaptations required in teaching across different cultures and educational systems, emphasising the importance of teacher autonomy and the tailored approach to student engagement and motivation. To that end, we discuss issues raised in his 2023 paper, Towards complexity in challenging learner autonomy research conventions: A wider view on learner development. This rich discussion provides an in-depth look at the realities of teaching that go beyond conventional methods, focusing on the nuanced needs of students and teachers in varied educational contexts, and will be essential watching for anyone with an interest in these issues.

Learn more about Dominic Edsall’s work here:


  • Edsall, D. G., with Head, E. & Hayasaki, A. (2023). Towards complexity in challenging learner autonomy research conventions: A wider view on learner development. The Learner Development Journal, 7, 157–179. 
  • Edsall, D. G. (2020). How much can we really know about learner autonomy. In Supporting learners and educators in developing language learner autonomy (pp. 8–39). Candlin & Mynard.
  • Edsall, D. G. (2019). As If... A Game Theory Perspective on Self-Access Learning. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal10(3), 223-238.
Period21 May 2024

Media contributions


Media contributions